Scientists have found interesting details about how climate change plays a role in likelihood and duration of conflict on the African continent.

The likelihood and duration of armed conflict in Africa can be impacted by climate change, a new study suggests. 

Conducted by a team of international researchers, the study was published in the latest issue of the journal Economia Politica

The team of researchers used a data set from the African continent spanning 26 years, from 1990 to 2016. Relying on a negative binomial regression model, they analysed whether certain climatic phenomena, in combination with the socioeconomic characteristics of the areas studied, had any effect on the likelihood of triggering a conflict, and if it did, how long it lasted.

“In the context of developing countries, agriculture is unquestionably the sector most exposed to climate variability,” the researchers write. “Together with agriculture, the joint increase in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns often leads to more severe drought conditions, also influencing the livestock sector by inducing changes in prices or pastoralism displacement with a consequent increase in competition on land-use.”

The researchers also note that “Water access is another channel responsible for linkages between conflicts and weather-induced water scarcity since the control over water resources is an instrument of war for both offensive and defensive purposes.”

The study lists a few key findings, including the fact that “a prolonged increase in temperature and precipitation increases the probability of conflict beyond the affected area by four to five times, specifically in populations up to a radius of about 550 km,” a news release explains.

The researchers write that their results “suggest that the pressure on food availability related to water scarcity increases the number of conflicts only if the drought condition has persisted at least for three years prior. On the other hand, excess in rainfalls triggers larger and immediate reactions.”

Policy recommendations

"The results we have obtained have far-reaching implications for territorial policies on the African continent. For example, changes in climatic conditions influence the likelihood of conflict over large areas, which means that the design of climate adaptation policies must consider the particularities of each territory," says Davide Consoli, a researcher at the INGENIO Institute and one of the authors of the study.

The authors recommend two main policy interventions. 

“First, the results on geographical spillovers indicate that planning of adaptation policies to reduce climate vulnerability should account for multiple spatial interrelations. A well-designed adaptation action might improve resilience at the local scale but vulnerability in neighbouring areas may substantially reduce those benefits.”

“Second, the results on [persistence] of violence call for the explicit inclusion of peacekeeping measures in the design and implementation of adaptation strategies for climate resilience. Indeed, poorly designed adaptation interventions can compound existing inequalities and exacerbate the risk of conflicts instead of improving the socio-economic resilience to external shocks,” they add.

"These measures are essential in the design and implementation of adaptive strategies for climate resilience. In fact, poorly designed adaptation interventions can exacerbate existing inequalities and increase the risk of conflict," concludes Consoli.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies